NEW ORLEANS – A federal judge has ruled against police officers who sought to block the city of New Orleans’ new way of coordinating and arranging payments for their off-duty security work.
U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan rejected arguments Monday from the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Association of New Orleans, which object to officers being assigned and paid for off-duty security work through the city’s new Office of Police Secondary Employment.
The office was established to address U.S. Justice Department concerns. A 2011 Justice Department report highly critical of operations, policies and training at the scandal-plagued police department included assertions that off-duty police work policies contributed to corruption.
The report said there was evidence that some officers were more committed to their private duty jobs than to their police department work, that some showed up for roll call then reported to their private jobs and that “some businesses hire officers on detail with the expectation that officers will look the other way when faced with a conflict between enforcing the law and protecting the business’ interest.”
Establishment of the Office of Police Secondary Employment was part of a reform agreement approved this year by Morgan. Groups representing police have complained about the new oversight and policies, including the rotation of officers from one off-duty job to another, knocking them off details they have worked for years.
Opponents of the new system argued the city effectively usurped the authority of the local Civil Service Commission to set pay rates. But Morgan ruled that police off-duty work does not fall under Civil Service jurisdiction. The police groups also said the new policy violated police officers’ federal and state contracting rights, but Morgan ruled that officers have always needed their superiors’ permission to contract for off-duty details and the new regulation doesn’t change that.
Police groups also said the new policy violated the state constitution’s prohibition against taking a “business enterprise or any of its assets.” But, Morgan said, “the ability to engage in secondary employment has not been taken away from officers.”
From The Associated Press via The Republic